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The iconic Carl Sagan-hosted TV series “Cosmos” returns on FOX this Sunday, with Neil deGrasse Tyson in the lead. Credit: Fox; Youtube.

This Sunday, the iconic TV series Cosmos returns—with Neil deGrasse Tyson at the helm.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson. Credit: Bruce F Press; Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

“Cosmos will explore how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time,” according to the National Geographic Channel website. As if those goals weren’t big enough, the series hopes to make a worldwide impression with viewing in 170 countries and 45 languages.

The original iconic 13-part series, “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” aired on PBS in the 1980s and was hosted by late astronomer, educator, writer, and famous man Carl Sagan. According to the NY Times, the original series “was arguably the most successful popularization of science since Albert Einstein roamed Princeton without his socks.”

The iconic series was a landmark because Sagan made complex topics like the origins of life and interstellar travel accessible. Sagan, a stellar science communicator, ditched the technical jargon and made the series an intellectual and personal journey (hence the namesake). That accessibility piqued the interest of an audience that was composed of more than just science-y types. Cosmos was incredibly popular with a general audience, so much so that 400 million people in 60 countries eventually viewed the series.

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Carl Sagan. Credit: NASA JPL; Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

While no one can really take Sagan’s place, Tyson is about the best substitute. An astrophysicist and director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium, Tyson has an impressive list of accolades. But what’s even more impressive is his commitment to communicating the wonders of science, much akin to his predecessor. Just in case you weren’t aware of his science-nerd-rockstar status, here’s proof.

The premiering episode of the new series (whose full name is “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey”) is entitled “Standing up in the Milky Way.” It will air this Sunday, March 9 at 9 pm—on FOX. Although FOX that may seem like an unlikely home, executive directors Seth MacFarlane (yes, the “Family Guy” guy) and Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan wanted the series to target a fresh audience—one that wasn’t already convinced about the wonders of science, according to the NY Times article. Seems like FOX may be the perfect fit then.

Taking into account some of the current public discord regarding a variety of science topics, “Tyson says the new Cosmos may have a greater sense of urgency, at a time when issues such as climate change and the risk of asteroid collisions with Earth increasingly concern scientists,” states the National Geographic website.

Just in case you weren’t aware of the dearth of science/technology literacy in the general population, a recent LA Times article reported a study performed by Vouchercloud.net found that 1 in 10 Americans thinks HTML is a sexually transmitted disease (the validity of this survey has been called into question, however)!